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DODGERS REPORT

Bennett makes most of rare start

May 16, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Gary Bennett didn't find out he'd be playing Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers until less than 15 minutes before the first pitch. Which might have been a lucky break since it gave him little time to worry about the fact he'd be facing unbeaten right-hander Ben Sheets, who has been extremely difficult on everyday players, much less guys making their fifth start of the year.

"Sheets is definitely not an easy task," Bennett said.

But he made the most of his chances, capping a six-run seventh-inning rally with a three-run home run, then driving in the Dodgers' final run with a ninth-inning double in a 7-2 victory at Miller Park.

The homer was Bennett's first since September, which also came at Miller Park. He has played 10 games since then.

The four RBIs were the most he has had in a game since August 2006. The double and homer gave him two extra-base hits in a game for the first time in 11 months.

"You prepare for situations just like that," Bennett said. "Anything could happen in the game.

"So I just try to always stay as ready as I can."

What it made all a little more special was the fact that Bennett, who lives in nearby Libertyville, Ill., was able to share it with his sons, Garrison and Gavin, who skipped school to attend the game.

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Bennett was added to the lineup when third baseman Blake DeWitt, bothered by lower back pain for about a week, suffered a stiff back during pregame stretching.

Manager Joe Torre was running through some alternate lineups when third base coach Larry Bowa suggested moving catcher Russell Martin to third and starting Bennett behind the plate.

"And it was a great suggestion, obviously," Torre said.

DeWitt, whose .320 average is tops on the active roster, said he expects to be ready to play today in Anaheim.

"It's not an issue," he said. "It's just a little bit tight."

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Andruw Jones was sorry to see special assignment coach Don Mattingly return home to Evansville, Ind., after the series.

When the slumping Jones was benched for Tuesday's series opener, Mattingly used the time to do some extra work with him and that paid off with a seventh-inning home run Thursday, the second of the season for Jones.

"He had a lot of interesting stuff to say," said Jones, whose homer accounted for the game's first run. "Nothing against [hitting coach Mike] Easler, but there were a couple of things that he saw and we worked hard at it.

"It was two games. There are a lot more games left. We just had to keep working on those things and keep it up."

Jones also drove in a run Wednesday, giving him RBIs in consecutive games for the first time as a Dodger.

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Chad Billingsley, who has had an up-and-down year, turned in his best effort since last August, holding the Brewers to a pair of singles through seven shutout innings to earn the win.

"I had really good command with the fastball," said Billingsley (3-5). "I was able to just throw it where I wanted to and I was keeping it down in the zone."

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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